Dec 092023
Tommy DeVito, New York Giants (November 26, 2023)

Tommy DeVito – © USA TODAY Sports

When the NFL schedule was released in May, New York Giants fans noted the late bye. The hope and expectation was the team would hover around .500 or above during the first 12 games, regroup at the bye, and make a final push for a playoff spot in the last five games. The defense had been strengthened in the offseason with notable additions on the defensive line, at linebacker, and at cornerback. Quarterback Daniel Jones was having his best camp in late July and August, with Darren Waller and Parris Campbell being his favorite targets. Right tackle Evan Neal was supposed to make a big jump.

Nobody saw the 2-8 start coming, made a little more respectable by the recent 2-game winning streak. The season has pretty much been all but officially over since October. Some fans cling to the notion that the team was “this” close to being 6-6, but that’s always a dangerous game. The Giants are also “this” close to being 0-12. We’re talking about a team that at the macro level is still dead last in offense, 31st in scoring with 13.3 points per game, and 28th in defense. These are worst-team-in-the-league type numbers.

At 4-8, most fans know the real drama unfortunately will not come during a late-season push in December, but in the offseason in January, February, March, and April. Which coaches stay and which go? Which free agents will be allowed to leave? Who will be signed and re-signed? Who will be drafted? These are monumental questions that include uncertainty with all three coordinators, not to mention who quarterbacks this team moving forward.

As for the final five games, just a few weeks ago, it appeared that three of them might actually be winnable for the Giants. Three weeks ago, the Packers and Rams were 3-6. Both are now two of the NFL’s hottest teams, each having won three games in a row, and now standing at 6-6 in a largely terrible conference. Both are playing much better than the Giants right now, and both actually are very much in the playoff hunt. The Giants also still face the Eagles twice and a 5-7 Saints team that has lost three games in a row. It’s hard to see the Giants winning more than one more game at best. Not with a team that struggles to score 10 points per game.

The offseason can’t get here fast enough.


  • QB Tyrod Taylor (ribs – probable)
  • WR Parris Campbell (knee – questionable)
  • TE Daniel Bellinger (illness – questionable)
  • RT Evan Neal (ankle – out)
  • DL Dexter Lawrence (hamstring – questionable)
  • DL A’Shawn Robinson (hamstring – questionable)
  • ILB Isaiah Simmons (ankle – questionable)
  • ILB Carter Coughlin (hip – probable)

The Daniel Jones situation has been discussed to death, including my recent article (The Risks of Tripling Down on Daniel Jones). The most interesting thing that occurred at the position this past week was Brian Daboll deciding to stick with Tommy DeVito as the starter over Tyrod Taylor, who is now healthy enough to play again. I did not expect this. Regardless of how you feel about Taylor, he is still a 13-year veteran who has started 56 games in this league (winning half of them). He’s also far more mobile than DeVito, which helps behind this offensive line. Point blank, Taylor gives the Giants the best chance to pull off an upset or two in the final five weeks.  The coaches know it. The players know it.

What’s so fascinating is that Daboll (most likely in consultation with Joe Schoen) feels comfortable enough with his status to continue to evaluate the undrafted rookie free agent. This isn’t best for the short-term, but it is for the long-term. There is a very good chance that the injury-prone Taylor won’t be re-signed, especially after his has just been semi-snubbed by Daboll (Taylor took the high road this week, but he was not happy with the decision). The Giants need to get a good read on DeVito heading into the offseason. Is he capable of being an adequate back-up in this league? Is there a chance he can be even more than that? Regardless, every play matters. He may not have a long leash. “I’d just say let’s get ready to go this game and then we’ll, like we do every week, revisit things,” said Daboll on Tuesday.

So the pressure is on DeVito to perform if he wants to keep playing. This is good. Let’s see what he’s made of. While the Giants are not scoring a lot of points, DeVito has had a QBR of over 100 in his last two starts. That’s really impressive. As Daboll said, he’s earned the right to keep playing. Can he keep this up? Quarterback development is not linear. At some point, the rookie is going to make a really bad play. How he responds to that will be telling.

The problem for DeVito and the Giants is they face yet another defense that is stingy giving up points. The Packers are 9th in scoring defense, allowing an average of 20 points per game. Green Bay has also quietly become one of the league’s more effective pass rushing teams, one of the reasons they are top-10 in pass defense. However, their run defense is actually worse than the Giants, suggesting a heavy dose of Saquon Barkley. Green Bay knows this, which makes the cat-and-mouse game between Daboll/Kafka and defensive coordinator Joe Barry interesting. Do the Giants come out throwing with the rookie? Or do they run Barkley into the teeth of a defense looking to stop the run first and foremost?

With the expectation that Green Bay is likely to win this game, why should Giants fans watch? Aside from DeVito, my eyes will be focused on important players moving forward such as Jalin Hyatt, Wan’Dale Robinson, and John Michael Schmitz. We also still need to get a more thorough evaluation on guys like Ben Bredeson, Daniel Bellinger, and Isaiah Hodgins.

This has been a weird year for the team’s defense. With offseason additions such as Bobby Okereke, A’Shawn Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Isaiah Simmons, and Deonte Banks, more was expected than the 28th overall defense through 12 games. Football is indeed complementary so some of that is on the offense. And there have been noticeable upticks in performance where the defense has looked very good, most notably in games against the Bills, Commanders, Jets, and Patriots. While one could say the defense is trending in the right direction, there were really disappointing setbacks too in recent contests against the Raiders and Cowboys. The Giants also began the season allergic to turnovers and now they are coming in droves. The head-scratcher remains why Wink’s defense was so good in Baltimore but continues to be bottom-tier in New York.

I really think these last five games are more important for the defense. The offense has some structural issues at quarterback and on the line that can’t be addressed until the offseason. While the defense obviously needs more help at edge, especially with the pass rush, it has fewer excuses. What kind of effort and results can we expect from the defense against the Packers, Saints, Rams, and Eagles? Will the defense be trending upwards or downwards against teams far stronger on offense than Commanders, Jets, and Patriots?

Adding unnecessary drama to the mix is the question about the relationship between Daboll and Wink Martindale. It’s been widely reported there is tension between both of these strong personalities and there may be a parting of the ways after the season. The way both Daboll and Martindale have responded to these allegations has been somewhat guarded, as beat reporter Dan Duggan pointed out:

Martindale did an adept job of straddling the line of neither confirming nor denying the report. He said his relationship is “fine” and the “same as last year.” Joe Schoen made the same reference to the relationship not changing from last year. I think that’s because there’s always been an element of friction, but they’ve been able to work through it. As Martindale said, these types of reports happen when you’re 4-8 instead of 8-4. Martindale said he wants to stay here, but said he doesn’t know what will happen. He tried to keep the focus on the players. Sounded like a parent trying to work things out for the kids.

Make no mistake, changing defensive coordinators would be a step back in the rebuilding process. Wink has had a say in who the team has acquired the past two seasons. Furthermore, players could have to learn an entire new system and terminology with a new defensive coordinator unless it is an in-house promotion. At the same time, while the defense has played better than the offense this year, it hasn’t been good enough. The net effect of all of this is January will be very interesting. I suspect there is a good chance that Martindale is let go despite what all parties are claiming right now.

Enter the red hot Green Bay Packers, who are playing their best football of the season with wins over the 5-7 Chargers, 9-3 Lions, and 8-4 Chiefs. Much of that has to do with an offense that has scored 26 points per game in its last three contests and the improved play of quarterback Jordan Love. His QBR in the last three games has been 108.5, 125.5, and 118.6 while throwing eight touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s elite level.

As I’ve harped on in recent weeks, the team’s pass rush will remain a problem for the remainder of the season unless Azeez Ojulari somehow plays light’s out for the final games. Leonard Williams is gone. Dexter Lawrence missed the last game with a hamstring injury that could remain an issue. Kayvon Thibodeaux is now a marked man. What I want to see is the run defense improve. Personally, I can’t stand how many yards this team gives up on the ground. I want to see dramatic improvement there.

We finally saw some kick-ass special teams tackles in the last game, notably from Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown. More of that please. Those type of plays are tone-setters.

Saquon Barkley on the remaining schedule: “We’re in this motherfucker, to be honest. I’m going to keep it real. We’re not looking too far, we’re not looking in on the hunt or the playoff pictures, but we take care of what we’ve got to take care of, everyone can say what they want about the season, but it’s week whatever and everything we want is still there. So, we don’t need any extra motivation. Every game is a critical game no matter what, but especially now.”

The Packers beating the Lions and Chiefs in the past two weeks is a real eye-opener. They need this game too. Staying close for the Giants with DeVito at quarterback would be a moral victory. In the end, the Giants will likely finish 2023 going 0-5 in prime time games. Ouch.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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